Category Archives: Helpful Thinking

DA – A Truly Life Changing Journey

My first psychiatric hospitalization was at age 15. That began two decades of waves of major depression, later called “treatment resistant depression.” I tried just about every medication and therapy there was. My depression lied to me saying I was not good enough (in reality, I was a straight A student and won numerous awards). In my mind, that was not enough, I was not enough. Depression told me “the world would be better off without me.” I found alcohol and other substances to escape my pain. That worked for awhile, but ultimately plummeted me into self-hatred. I had periods of functionality working and pursuing activities I enjoyed. Then depression took over, I couldn’t work anymore, I just could not get up. This depression was a tsunami that swept over me, consumed me. I let everyone down and I hated myself.

Because of my depression, I went on disability with help from my Mom. I made it through one semester of college, then the drinking, the depression and the eating disorder took over. I was hospitalized again. I withdrew from school. I was suicidal and made attempts.

Eventually, I found AA, got sober, worked the steps and found a new life! I still struggled with the eating disorder and the depression but I graduated college and started a career. Depression arose again. Everyone in the rooms of AA was happy, joyous & free…. so what was wrong with me?

After I had my daughter, things were better for awhile. She was the light of my life. Depression kept coming back, even stronger than ever. I was still sober in the rooms of AA, but depression was going to kill me. I tried something new to me: ECT, 6 series over the next 6-8 years. It hurt. A lot. Hellish to go through. It initially helped but the last session put me in a zombie state, unable to speak properly, vocalize or even write my thoughts. Something happened that should not have happened. It scared the hell out of me and my family. Over time I regained my function but I still have memory issues. ECT was no longer an option for me.

Ketamine helped for a while but it felt very addicting and so I stopped it. Suicidal feelings came again and I felt completely hopeless. I might live in an institution for the rest of my life. Even in sobriety I was helpless and hopeless and victimized by depression.

In desperation I googled “depression and 12 steps.” I found the Depressed Anonymous website. I was too afraid to go to a meeting but spoke with a member. I was desperate, utterly despairing. This DA member said he had also felt like that and there was hope for me. HOPE. For Me? I wept. That phone call saved my life. It launched a new life for me, it launched a new path. I got the courage to attend a meeting, I didn’t feel so alone after that. I met people across the globe who experienced depression, understood how I felt and yet they were doing better! I got the DA literature and a sponsor and started doing the work. A few months into DA, I had another severe depression and hospitalization. But I didn’t give up and I kept coming back. My willingness renewed, I worked through the steps with my sponsor and learned I am responsible for my recovery. I am powerless over depression but I am not hopeless. Eventually I started chairing meetings. Service helped me so much! It started to give me the sense that I was just a little capable. I took baby steps. All growth is gradual.

My recovery is like a puzzle: DA is one huge piece of the puzzle. Along with my Higher Power, connecting with my Higher Power, medication, AA, working the steps, eating fairly healthy, weight lifting and going to the gym. There is also puzzle pieces of outreach and service and more. I am off disability for over two years now, and excelling at a great job that I love where I can be of service. I am both a devoted, loving Mother to my daughter and a caring, giving daughter to my Mother. I am capable of being there for myself and others. Yes, I can balance work, life, recovery, service AND learn to have fun again, too!

I have so much gratitude to my DA sponsors and friends, our amazing founder, and all those in this fellowship. This has been truly a life changing journey for me. Life still presents sadness, challenges, fears and “life on life’s terms.” But just for today, I am capable, I have hope and I am not alone.

Yours in fellowship,

Stacy S., March 2024

How DA Has Set Me Free

Working through the DA 12-Step Program started me on a journey which allowed me to face certain truths in my life. They were truths I may not have been aware of or willing to face otherwise. This recovery continues and helps me even today. What is buried deep within can be revealed. I can understand how and why I arrived here. I can come to understand what it is that I need to make myself better. I know that my Higher Power led me here and remains by my side as I continue to navigate my way through life.

When I found DA and the 12 Steps, I was desperate. I was fighting with everything I had to not fall back into another bout of depression. When I’m depressed, I retreat from life and go into survival mode. I sink into a deep, dark hole. My body feels hollow and my emotions are frozen. I lose all interest in “living” my life. My only goal is to survive the day so I can return to the “blessed oblivion” of sleep at night. I do whatever I need to do to stay out of my head which is full of negative thoughts. It feels like hell but it also feels safe and comfortable to be in this dark hole because it allows me to check out of my life. I’ve freed myself from being an active, contributing member of my family, my community and the whole human race. Depression is the excuse I use to not have to deal with any expectations placed upon me by myself or others.

I have discovered a lot about myself on this path. I’ve exposed feelings of fear, shame & unworthiness. I’ve had to work on accepting my negative emotions and becoming more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Allowing myself to be vulnerable, to practice self-compassion and to accept all of who I am both the good and the not so good. This has been a difficult but necessary part of my journey. I’ve had to work on my negative thinking which causes negative feelings which then drives negative actions and produces negative results. Positive and negative experiences/feelings are a natural part of existence. The key is to be able to accept them both!

I am grateful for DA, the Program. Community & all the members who have helped and continue to help me as I go forward. My wish is that everyone who joins DA will find what they need to help them manage their depression. I know this program really does work. There is hope for you, too!

MT, February 2024

The Bright Light of Hope

If we have worked the 12 Steps on a daily basis, we now realize the value of surrender and the power that releases in us, just by making a decision in Step Three to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand God” is the beginning of reconnection with life and ourselves. It is in the group that the depressed person begins trusting their members where they have admitted that their lives are unmanageable, and that they have made a conscious decision to turn their lives over to God, or the Higher Power. The Twelve Step program helps people to become God conscious. It is in working the program while making no excuses for the spiritual nature of our recovery, we can begin to attribute our new-found sense of hope and peace to the Higher Power. For the active member of Depressed Anonymous there begins to glimmer in the distance, the bright light of hope.

Submitted by Janet M.

Motivation Follows Action

AFFIRMATION
I promise to do something positive for myself today.
“When you are depressed you are plagued by tiredness. Indeed, there are many people who experience the major portion of their depression in tiredness.”

Copyright(c) Dorothy Rowe. Breaking the Bonds, Fontana. 1981.

I find that if I am depressed and want to start to feel better, or at least get my mind off of depression, I need to go for a walk and keep on moving. In DA we say MOTIVATION FOLLOWS ACTION. WHAT THIS MEANS IS THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET MOTIVATED TIL YOU GET BUSY DOING SOMETHING. This was my feeling a lot of time. It was only when I started walking that I wanted to walk. I didn’t want to do anything to help myself, until I forced myself to do something.

I believe that one’s tiredness when depressed comes from having too many things going through one’s brain at the same time. The strain of being overwhelmed is too much for the human brain and so it and the body begin to show the signs of stress. I also believe that so many unpleasant emotions constantly coming to surface and being felt by the body results in an overload situation in my brain.

Copyright(c) Dorothy Rowe, Breaking the Bounds. Fontana. 1981


QUOTE FROM:
Hug Smith. HIGHER THOUGHTS FOR DOWN DAYS. DAP. LOUISVILLE, KY. 2005 (January 24) Pg.15.

What’s up with the use of the word God?

To me the word God is just a placeholder for the concept of Higher Power.

Imagine for a moment if you had to describe the interior of where you live and you could not use any of the noun names for the items in your living space: table, chair, carpet, cabinet, bed, sofa, sink, toilet, tub. You would need to describe each of these items in excruciating detail to convey their meaning. We don’t do that however. If we use the generic term chair that can be used to label any object that you can sit upon whether it is made of wood, stone, metal, plastic. Whether it is coated in fabric or not. No matter the color. You can understand the concept of chair and you can find items in your surroundings that match the concept of chair.

The term God is just like the term chairit’s just a label. Try not to be so fixed in your judgment that chairs can only be made of wood. God comes in many different forms. The Great Divine is a multifaceted jewel and we only can see one facet of the jewel at a time.

The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao. – First chapter of Tao Te Ching, Lao Tszu

God is bigger than any box you try to put Him in.

That is just my limited understanding of God. I know there is a Higher Power and I am not that Higher Power. Whatever understanding I do have is finite and is filtered through my limited human ability to perceive.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Is Serenity Boring?

On the phone with a fellow traveler this morning, a question arose.  Is Serenity boring?  Let us consult.  So Oxford Languages says:  serenity is the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.  Boring (same dictionary) means not interesting, tedious.  This called up an immediate yawn in a three-part sigh, my hand over my mouth and feeling tired.  If we go a step further and look up Depression, Oxford says:  a medical condition in which a person feels very sad, anxious and without hope and often has physical symptoms as being unable to sleep.  (Of course, that is without Depressed Anonymous.)

Clearly, none of these is alike or interchangeable.  Serenity is a beckoning warmth, it invites us to “calm”, “untroubled ” waters.  At least every other day, I walk the 1 and 5/8 miles around Jamaica Pond.  This habit I acquired from hearing at a meeting how walking could help my depression.  Each day is a little different but my favorites are the clear-as-glass, not-a-ripple in the water except the trailing stream that follows the single file geese babies sandwiched straight up between the mom and dad.  And the end of day dusk walks with enough light for the trees and shrubs to be two places at once:  on the shore and topping the water in a marvelous mirage.  When it is quite dark dusk, it takes a while for eyes to focus in such pale light.  But then comes the grand surprise:  a crane or heron in silhouette of black, white and grey.  These are the gift of the day and evening:  the Pond giveth…..  Oh, Thank God for nature, it sets me right, it lifts my heart, it takes the toxicity of the world and injects it with its antidote of Sacredness.

Now, about Serenity.  God does grant it but maybe not right on waking.  After an inspirational reading, a little meditation, my regular yoga, a walk around the condo praying for the planet especially the animals and blessing the space, talking or texting with my DA family via phone/What’s App, things are feeling pretty good.  Good enough to start my day both knowing and feeling  I am not alone.  These, for me, hold the seeds of hope and inspiration.

Today I started something new.  Because I want that sacred thread through my day, that conscious contact with the Power greater than myself through my day.  I want extraordinary, I want to have it, to hold it, to live it.  If you had a catechism you may remember the very first question/answer.  “Where is God?  God is everywhere”!!  How I wish that teaching was expounded so we could learn and know that there is nowhere that God is not, to the edges of the Universe and to each and every heart, God is there.  And so is Divine Peace, Joy, Presence, Knowing, Bliss.  These, like God,  are always available.  The Universe (another name of God) holds no grudges, and wants me to receive all of its Good and I can have that Good.  I only need to catch the glimpse (like that heron on the dusky pond) to see it with my very own eyes and to remember God is with me and all is well.

For these ideals, I find a new use for my phone.  Every two hours I sent an alarm and so when the chime rings, there I am in an instant appointment with Higher Power, no need to wait in line.  I talk and listen and offer a prayer.  Since last Summer its been particularly challenging and that reminds me my very best prayers are “Thy will be done, not mine” and “Thank You.”

So this is how I’m wired now, wired with Twelve Steps and single days.  If you are wired like this too, we can answer the question together, is any of this boring?  “We think not.”  And as for Depression, it is what it is.  Against me alone, it can take a shot, although I vow to kick that beast to the curb every time.  But against me + my Higher Power, and me + the Power of the Group, it doesn’t have a chance.

Is Serenity boring?  I/We ….. Think …… Not.

Doreen K., New Year’s Eve, 2023

Happy New Year!

We are on the cusp of starting a New Year here in the Eastern time zone. Some parts of the world are already into the new year.

The month of January is named after Janus the Roman god who presided over beginnings. Today is the start of something new. Be hopeful for the new year even if this past year has been challenging. The dark clouds of the past eventually clear and a new day begins.

Looking closely each day is a new beginning – a microscopic reincarnation. We begin anew each day. Start the new day with hope and wonder. Approach the new day with awe and wonder what God1 has in store for you. Let go of your expectations as to what the day will bring. You may be surprised what comes your way but try not to be upset by it.

Yours in recovery, Bill R

Note
1 – I use the term God because that is my understanding of my higher power. Please substitute the term that is useful and comforting for you. I am not trying to force my belief upon you.

The Real Deal

One of my favorite TV shows is the Antique Roadshow. Every piece of furniture, painting, pottery, etc., brought to the show, has its own unique history. Each piece is appraised as to its present value by professional art dealers. That is the basis of the show, to help people discover how much that old letter, old painting or anything else that they bring to the show. seeking its worth. They can discover if their painting is an original, the real deal, or just a copy, or even a forgery. It is rare that an original masterpiece is ever discovered. Even so, there are times when a very valuable piece is discovered. People who come to show their articles, know that they can at least find out if they have something of value.

In ancient Rome, there were many sculptors, who sculpted pieces of artistic beauty. At times, when a sculptor’s chisel took too much granite off his work of art, he would cover his mistake with wax. So, if an artist wanted to sell his piece of art, it had to be noted that the piece was sincere, that is, without wax. No covering up mistakes.

So when I say that I am sincere, I am telling you that I am telling the truth. I am telling you that there is no coverup in what I am saying. (sine cera in Latin = without wax). In other words, it’s the real deal.

In our recovery program, Depressed Anonymous, we thrive by being sincere. We learn that it is when we admitted that we were powerless over depression and that our lives had become unmanageable, that we began to thrive and freed ourselves from the prison of depression.

Please come and join us in this Depressed Anonymous Fellowship. It is here where we can share our past mistakes and shortcomings – and our strengths – no more wax jobs – and find peace abd strength with folks just like ourselves.

DEPRESSED ANONYMOUS
Our website at DEPRESSEDANON.COM, will provide you with all necessary information, directing you to our online daily ZOOM meetings. We offer two meetings a day. You are always welcome!

HUGH S., for the DA Fellowship

Savor Life

“If I had my life to live over I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I would relax. I would limber up. I would eat more ice cream and
less bans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I would have fewer imaginary ones. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.

I would have perhaps more actual troubles, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I would try to have nothing else. Just one day after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the Spring and stay that way later in the Fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.”

Editor’s note:
The author, Nadine, wrote this at the age of 85. She died in a Louisville, Kentucky, nursing home, at the age of 88.

Copyright (C) THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET VOLUME 4 NUMBER 3 SPRING 1993